Goldman Taps Seven for Annual Environmental Prize

The 2009 Goldman Environmental Prize recipients are a group of fearless grassroots leaders taking on government and corporate interests and working to improve the environment for people in their communities.

“This group of Goldman Prize recipients is as impressive as ever, taking on seemingly insurmountable struggles and achieving success,” said Goldman Prize founder Richard N. Goldman. “In this, our 20th year, we are pleased to bring attention to their courageous work.”

The Goldman Environmental Prize is awarded annually to grassroots environmental heroes from each of the world’s six inhabited continental regions and is the largest award of its kind with an individual cash prize of $150,000.

This year’s winners are:

  • Maria Gunnoe, Bob White, W. V.: In the heart of Appalachia, where the coal industry wields enormous power over government and public opinion, lifelong resident Gunnoe fights against environmentally devastating mountaintop removal mining and valley fill operations.
  • Marc Ona, Libreville, Gabon: In Gabon, a country without a culture of civic engagement, Ona led efforts to publicly expose the unlawful agreements behind a huge Chinese mining development project that threatens the sensitive ecosystems of his country’s equatorial rainforests.
  • Rizwana Hasan, Dhaka, Bangladesh: Working to reduce the impact of Bangladesh’s exploitative and environmentally destructive ship breaking industry, leading environmental attorney Hasan led a legal battle resulting in increased government regulation and heightened public awareness about the dangers of ship breaking.
  • Olga Speranskaya, Moscow, Russia: Russian scientist Speranskaya transformed the NGO community in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia into a potent, participatory force working to identify and eliminate the Soviet legacy of toxic chemicals in the environment.
  • Yuyun Ismawati, Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia: As waste management problems mount throughout the Indonesian archipelago, Ismawati implements sustainable community-based solutions that provide employment opportunities to low-income people and empower them to improve the environment.
  • Wanze Eduards and Hugo Jabini, Pikin Slee Village and Paramaribo, Suriname: Eduards and Jabini, members of Maroon communities originally established by freed African slaves in the 1700s, successfully organized their communities against logging on their traditional lands, ultimately leading to a landmark ruling for indigenous and tribal peoples throughout the Americas to control resource exploitation in their territories.

The Goldman Environmental Prize was established in 1989 by San Francisco civic leader and philanthropist Goldman and his late wife, Rhoda H. Goldman. It has been awarded to 133 people from 75 countries.

Prize winners are selected by an international jury from confidential nominations submitted by a worldwide network of environmental organizations and individuals.

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